Ya sou, Kalinoches”? What does that mean? Today we react to the most awkward and hilarious Greek-speaking scenes from foreign movies and Tv-series.
In the past we have seen a list of Greek films and tv-series that you can watch if you are interested in European cinema or if you just want to practice your Greek language skills. We have also covered the concise history of Greek cinema, including some legendary films from Greece’s golden cinema era.
Today, Helinika presents a list of films that will inspire you to visit or even move to Greece. Some of these films are not necessarily Greek speaking nor are they produced by a Greek film company. But they do capture the beauty of the Mediterranean country. They are presented to you in a random sequence.
9 Movies Filmed in Greece
- Mama Mia 1
- Boy on a Dolphin
- For Your Eyes Only (James Bond)
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
- Zorba the Greek
- Never on Sunday
- The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Mama Mia 1, 2008
The first Mama Mia (2008) movie is perhaps one of the most recent movies that put Greece into everyone’s bucket list. The American movie follows the young bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, played by Amanda Seyfried, to the fictional island of Kalokairi, where her wedding is going(?) to take place. The real location is no other than the underrated island of Skopelos in the Sporades island group. The film also includes scenes filmed in neighboring islands and in South Pelion.
The film is a musical and it has moderate online reviews. If you love musicals, Greece… and you are looking for a light-hearted movie to watch, you will definitely enjoy Mama Mia. Although a prequel to the movie has recently been released, all the scenes that are supposedly set in Greece were actually filmed in Croatia.
Boy on a Dolphin, 1957
Boy on a Dolphin (1957) is a vintage American adventure romance film set in Greece. Although a Hollywood film, it has an international cast. The legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren plays Phaedra, a sponge diver on the island of Hydra who accidentally discovers an ancient Greek stature of a boy riding a dolphin. What follows is a battle between virtue and money. Is the statue going to be taken away from its home, Hydra?
The movie was the first Hollywood production filmed in Greece. A very important Greek actor, Alexis Minotis, is also playing in the film, along with other European actors and actresses. Anyone who loves European cinema should watch this movie at least once.
For Your Eyes Only (James Bond), 1981
Did you know that the 12th film in the James Bond franchise is set in Greece? “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) is a British spy film with Roger Moore playing the iconic secret agent with the code number 007.
The movie includes scenes filmed in the Ionian island of Corfu, in Meteora and the Achilleion. Other scenes were filmed outside of Greece, such as the Bahamas and Italy. If you are a spy film enthusiast, “For Your Eyes Only” should be on your list.
Suntan (2016) is a Greek drama film by Argyris Papadimitropoulos that captures the Mediterranean sunlight and scenery in a fascinating way. Described as a “cautionary tale” by critics, it premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. It follows a middle-aged doctor at a small island, whose life spirals out of control as soon as summer arrives.
The film won Best Film, Best Director and other awards at the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. If you are planning on watching it, you should know that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001
A classic film that most Greeks have watched at least once, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) is a British war film based on a book with the same title. The movie is set in the Ionian island of Cephalonia during World War II.
Nicolas Cage plays an Italian officer with a passion for music. Penelope Cruz plays a highly educated and strong-willed woman named Pelagia. The two fall in love during some of the most brutal years of the 20th century. If you enjoy watching historical films and Mediterranean sceneries, you should watch this movie as soon as possible.
Zorba the Greek, 1964
If you know anything about Greece, then you must be familiar with the name “Zorba” or at least the popular syrtaki dance with that name. Zorba the Greek (1964) is a Greek comedy-drama starring Anthony Quinn. The film is based on a book with the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis.
It revolves around the unorthodox friendship between an uptight British-Greek writer named Basil and a chaotic, Dionysian Greek man named Zorba. The legendary film is set in the island of Crete, featuring locations such as Chania and Kokkino Chorio. It is a film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. It is worth mentioning that the music is by Greece’s best-known composer, Mikis Theodorakis who unfortunately passed earlier this month.
Never on Sunday, 1960
It is not the first time Helinika features Never on Sunday (1960). The vintage Greek romantic comedy is set in the port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece. It is a must watch for anyone who loves Greek cinema. One of the protagonists is the great Greek actress Melina Merkouri, who plays the role of wild, untamed and honest Ilya.
Although the film attempts to show the degradation of Greek classical culture, it does so by showing a romanticized version of the notorious neighborhoods of Piraeus. You should watch it for a) Melina Merkouri, b) Hatzidaki’s music and c) the beautiful scenes set in Piraeus in the 1960s.
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, 2005
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (2005) is an American comedy-drama film for teenagers and young adults. Based on a novel with the same name, the film is set in various locations. One of them is the iconic island of Santorini in the Cyclades.
One of the protagonists, Lena Kaligaris, is a Greek American girl who spends her summer with relatives in Greece. Just like the rest of her friends, she goes through a transformation while away from her family and friends. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants has made many young girls dream of travelling to Santorini one day.
Mediterraneo (1991) is an awarded Italian war comedy-drama filmed in Kastellorizo in the Dodecanese. It follows a group of Italian soldiers who become stranded on the island and miss the brutality of the war.
The movie not only captured the beautiful Mediterranean scenery of Kastellorizo, but it won the hearts of the critics. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. It was also the debut film for the Greek actress Vana Barba who played the role of Vasilissa. It is a film everyone should watch in their lives. Keep in mind that some of the scenes are not suitable for young audiences.
In the spring of 1821, the Greek populations who lived under Ottoman rule, revolted against their opressors. The Greek War of Independence lasted for eight years and it resulted in the creation of an independent Greek state. There are several books, articles, documentaries, and films that narrate the events of the Greek revolution. Here are some recommendations of films and documentaries you can watch this week, during the 200-year anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. Some of the videos are suitable for English-speakers but the majority are in Greek.
Keep in mind that the portayal of certail events and figures might differ from film to film and from documentary to documetary. These include the legend of rising the flag in the Agia Lavra monastery and the overall stance of the Greek Orthodox Church towards the rebels, along with the importance of the intervention of the three “Great Powers” (France, Britain, Russia) in the final outcome.
Documetaries and Films on the Greek Fight for Freedom
“Greek history – Figures and Events of the Greek Revolution” | Video on 1821 [ENG]
This brief video by Benaki Museum focuses on the figures and events of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
“The Great Powers and the Greek Revolution” | Episode on the Greek War of Independence
This episode of the Greek-speaking historical tv-series “Μηχανή του Χρόνου” (Time Machine) focuses on the intervention of the “Great Powers” during the Greek War of Independence. The episode was aired in the Greek public tv-channel “NET”.
“1821” | Documentary Series on the Events of the Greek War of Independence
The documentary was filmed in Greek and broadcasted by the tv-channel “Σκάι”. “1821” received backlash by a percentage of the Greek population, because it presented some incidents as myths rather than as historical events (e.g. the Agia Lavra incident). It also talked about the frictions between the leaders of the Revolution that weakened the Greek forces and finally required the intervention of the “Great Powers”.
“’21: The Rebirth of The Greeks” | Documentary Series on the Events of 1821
Another, more recent historical Greek-speaking documentary, is the one presented by “MEGA” channel. One of the main differences between this and the previous documentary is that, in this case, the Greek Orthodox Church is presented as a supporter of the revolution.
“Greek history – The Lives of the Greeks during the Turkish occupation” | Video on Ottoman Greece [ENG]
This English-speaking video by Benaki Museum focuses on the everyday lives of Greeks during the Turkish occupation. The video received some negative comments for presenting the Ottoman rule in a positive light.
“Bouboulina” (1959) | Film on Greek National Heroine Laskarina Bouboulina
This 1959 film follows the life of the Greek national heroine and naval commander Laskarina Bouboulina from the island of Hydra.
“The Betrayed People: Manto Mavrogenous” (1983) | Biographical Film on Mantou Mavrogenous
This ’80s film is dedicated on the life of the Greek national heroine and Honorary Lieutenant General Manto Mavrogenous who spent her fortune on the Greek War of Independence.
“Souliotes” (1972) | Film on the Attack on Souli
One of the most well-known events related to the life of Greeks under Ottoman rule is the Zalongo incident that is depicted in this 1972 film.
The Rebirth of Greece (in 10 Minutes) | 200 Years since the Revolution of 1821 (Greek War of Independence)
The history of Greece and the Greeks spans thousands of years. These include years of prosperity and decline, times of conquests, and revolutions. But there was a moment in time that is of great importance for modern Greeks. That was the spring of 1821, exactly 200 years ago: the Greek War of Independence.
The Greek Independence Day. The Concise History of The Greek Revolution.
With Greece being the birthplace of drama and theater, it comes as no surprise that Greek cinema has a long history. Its roots take us back to the early 20th century. But what comes first to mind when thinking of Greek cinema and Greek films, is the “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s. In Greek, this era is called «ασπρόμαυρος κινηματογράφος» (black-and-white cinema) or «παλιός καλός κινηματογράφος» (good old cinema).
History of Greek Cinema | Cinematography in Greece
Cinematography in Greece started in 1914 with the film “Golfo” (Γκόλφω). It was written and directed by Konstantinos Bachatoris, who later became the founder of “Athini Films” (Αθήνη Φιλμς), the first Greek film company. “Golfo” was a silent film that could be described as a Cinderella-type story that takes place in the 19th century Greek countryside.
The film was produced again in 1955 by the legendary film company “Finos Film” (Φίνος Φιλμ). This time, it was directed by Orestis Laskos and it gained a lot of popularity. Due to its success, many bucolic-themed movies were filmed at that time.
Between 1914 and Greece’s “golden age cinema”, many more films were produced. Some notable mentions are “Daphnis and Chloe” (Δάφνις και Χλόη) from 1931, which was the first film to ever depict a nude scene in Europe, and “The Shepherdess’s Lover” (Ο Αγαπητικός της Βοσκοπούλας) from 1932.
The best years for Greek cinematography started in 1942, with the formation of the production company “Finos Films”. It was founded by Filopimin Finos and became the biggest film production company in southeast Europe. But which are some of the best Greek films from that era?
Is there a better way to immerse yourself in a language other than watching films and tv-series in that language? You can improve your Greek language skills with Greek-speaking films and tv-series.
Best Vintage Greek Movies | Best Greek Films
A notable film from that era is definitely “The Counterfeit Coin” (Η Κάλπικη Λίρα) from 1955. Directed by George Tzavellas, this Greek comedy-drama was included in the top-10 Greek films by the Pan-Hellenic Union of Cinema Critics in 2006. The movie follows the journey of a counterfeit coin – from the day it got engraved to the last person who found it on his way. It shows the way it influenced each person’s life, revealing the power dynamics of the Greek society at that time. Important Greek actors and actresses such as Dimitris Horn and Ellie Lambeti played in the film. These two had an international career.
The 1962 film Electra, based on the ancient Greek play with the same name, is another important film of that time. It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Cacoyannis and it was nominated for best foreign language film in the 1963 Academy Awards. It has won various awards in numerous film festivals in Mexico, Berlin, France and in other parts of the world.
The Greek movie “Amaxaki” (Το Αμαξάκι) from 1957 was not only a big commercial success but it also represented Greece in the Czech Film Festival.An important Greek actor, Orestis Makris, played a coachman in the picturesque Plaka neighborhood of Athens who sees his life turn upside down once people start using cars.
Some of the biggest commercial successes resulted from the collaboration of the Greek director Alekos Sakellarios with Finos Films. “The Auntie from Chicago” (Η Θεία απ’ το Σικάγο), the “Maiden’s Cheek” (Το ξύλο βγήκε απ’ τον παράδεισο), and the “Hurdy-Gurdy” (Λατέρνα, Φτώχεια, και Φιλότιμο) were very successful in the 1950s’ and Greek tv-channels still add them to their regular program.
Other commercially successful films were “Alice in the Navy” (η Αλίκη στο Ναυτικό), “The Teacher with the Golden Hair” (Η Δασκάλα με τα Ξανθά Μαλλιά), and “The Downfall” (Ο Κατήφορος). These movies featured some of the most well-known Greek actors and actresses of that time, including Zoe Laskari, Jenny Karezi, Mimis Photopoulos, Aliki Vougiouklaki, Dimitris Papamichael, and Georgia Vasileiadou.
Finally, there are many 1950s and 1960s Greeks films that won the hearts of the critics and the viewers were not necessarily produced by a Greek company, such as Finos Films, but were either filmed in Greece and/or featured Greek actors, directors, and script writers. Such examples are the critically acclaimed films “Never on Sunday” (Ποτέ την Κυριακή) by Jules Dassin, featuring Melina Merkouri, and “Zorbas the Greek” (Αλέξης Ζορμπάς) that was produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Greek Actors and Actresses of the Greek Golden Age Cinema
- Ellie Lambeti
- Dimitris Horn
- Katina Paxinou
- Irene Papas
- Melina Merkouri
- Alexis Minotis
- Anna Synodinou
- Petros Fyssoun
- Antigoni Valakou
- Alekos Alexandrakis
- Jenny Karezi
- Aliki Vougiouklaki
- Dinos Iliopoulos
- Thanasis Veggos
- Mimis Fotopoulos
- Kostas Hatzichristos
- Rena Vlachopoulou
- Maro Kontou
Is there a better way to immerse yourself in a language other than watching films and tv-series in that language? You can improve your Greek language skills with Greek-speaking films and tv-series. Helinika presents some Greek movies and tv-shows recommendations for its international community. Most movies and series episodes can be found online for free, even on YouTube. Comment down below if you want recommendations for Greek books and songs!
Greek TV-Series That Worth Your Time | Greek-Speaking Series
Δεληγιάννειον Παρθεναγωγείον (Deligianneion Boarding School)
A story by Charis Romas and Anna Chatzisofia. It is a drama/ romantic/ period/ comedy tv-series which aired 10 years ago. Although it was filmed quite recently, it takes place in a fictional boarding school for girls the years before and during World War II. It covers different topics, such as love, self-sacrifice, friendship, young romance, parent-children relationships, teen pregnancies, and feminism in early 20th Century Greece. It has a very emotional ending, which will offer you one of the most bitter-sweet feelings you will ever get after finishing a series. You can watch it for free on YouTube.
A story by Leuteris Papapetrou. One of the most iconic ‘90s Greek tv-series is “Εγκλήματα” (Crimes). It is a dark comedy and a memorable character from this series is Soso Papadima – but I will not give too much information about her and spoil anything. You should watch the series yourself. It is also available for free on YouTube.
Δύο Ξένοι (Two Strangers)
A story by Alexandros Rigas and Dimitris Apostolou. “Δύο Ξένοι” is the typical ‘90s romantic comedy that features two people with completely different backgrounds and personalities who meet and fall in love. On one hand we have a bubbly yet uncultured morning show presenter and on the other hand a grumpy theater director and drama teacher. By watching this show, you will also be able to hear some of the most memorable lines from well-known ancient Greek tragedies. The series is also available here on YouTube.
Περί Ανέμων και Υδάτων (On Winds and Waters)
A story by Kakia Iyerinou. This tv-series aired in the early 2000s and it features some of the most well-known Greek actors and actresses. It is a romantic series and it takes place in the beautiful island of Corfu. The intro song is also by Mikis Theodorakis, one of the best contemporary Greek composers and lyricists. You can also watch it for free on YouTube!
Το Νησί (To Nisi/ The Island)
Based on Victoria Hislop’s book. “Το νησί” is a drama that premiered in 2010 but takes place in 1939, in a small village in the island of Crete. “Νησί” means “island” in Greece. However, the title refers to another tiny island: Spinalogga. A place that was inhabited by the unfortunate people who had fallen ill by a mysterious disease. I am not going to spoil anything, so if you are interested in learning more about the plot, which is based on true events, you can always watch the series. You won’t find it on YouTube but on other video platforms.
Notable Mentions | More Greek TV-Shows
- Άγριες Μέλισσες
- Οι Στάβλοι της Εριέτας Ζαΐμη
- Το Καφέ της Χαράς
- Κωνσταντίνου και Ελένης
- Πάτερ Ημών
Greek Movies You Should Start Watching | Greek-Speaking Films
Ποτέ την Κυριακή (Never on Sunday)
Written and directed by Jules Dassin, starring Melina Merkouri. This ‘60s movie has a special place in my heart, since it features my hometown, Piraeus, which is the port of Athens, Greece. It follows Homer, an American classical scholar in search of happiness, and Ilya, a local woman who is considered immoral for sleeping with men in exchange for money. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (written by the legendary Manos Hadjidakis) and was nominated for countless more Academy Awards. Melina Merkouri, the leading actress, won “Best Actress” at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. A movie that every person who learns Greek should watch at least once in their lifetime. And yes, you can find it here on YouTube with English subtitles.
Πολίτικη Κουζίνα (With a Touch of Spice)
Directed by Tassos Boulmetis. This 2003 movie will help you understand the culture of the Greeks who originate from the city of Constantinople, through its culinary history. It has won eight Greek State Film Awards, including the Award for Best Film, and it had a huge success in the cinemas. You can watch it on YouTube but at a very small price.
Directed by Pantelis Voulgaris. This 2004 history drama was supported by Martin Scorsese, has countless Greek State Film Awards and was nominated for Golden St. George at Moscow International Film Festival. It follows the story of a 1922 young woman who is sent to the United States on a boat to marry a man she has never met. She is among the 700 brides-to-be from Greece – all of them have tragic stories to tell. You can watch it for free on YouTube.
Αν (What If)
By Christoforos Papakaliatis. This 2012 movie will give you a tour of the most beautiful places in the city of Athens. It also briefly features some of the events that happened in Greece after the crisis of 2008. However, these events mostly act as the background to the main storyline, which has made other people love the film or hate it. It has won Best Sound in the Hellenic Film Academy Awards. You can watch it for free on YouTube.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. This 2009 Greek film was maybe the first one that fell under the what we (now) call “Weird Greek Wave Cinema” category. I don’t want to spoil anything from the plot, so I am only going to mention that it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards and it won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. It has also won countless other awards and prices in Greece and abroad, including the Feature Film Award at Montreal Festival of New Cinema. Unfortunately, you cannot watch the entire movie on YouTube but you can easily find it on other video platforms.
Notable Mentions: More Greek movies
- Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά
- Έτερος Εγώ
- Η Κάλπικη Λύρα
- Μικρά Αγγλία
- Το Τανγκό των Χριστουγέννων
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